I’m delighted to welcome Jennifer Landis back to the blog today to talk about using mindfulness to eliminate distractions. Jennifer first joined me during the Week of Well-being and Inspiration with a wonderful post about mindfulness and writing. Jennifer now writes a monthly column for the blog on mindfulness and related topics. I find Jennifer’s posts fantastically helpful and I hope you will too!
Use Mindfulness to Eliminate Distraction this Summer
In many ways, technology has made our lives easier, but it has also added a lot of distractions, especially for writers.
As writers, it’s important to be connected to the world. While working on a piece, whether it’s an article, a book, creative nonfiction or a blog post, it’s important to have facts and answers to questions. Technology has made it easier for writers to find those facts and answers and to put us in touch with others through social media, but it can also be a time suck and distraction.
Because our thoughts and minds can be pulled in so many different directions while looking for answers, it has had an impact on our brains. This can lead to anxiety, stress, sleeping issues and depression. It can also make it hard to focus.
If you’re constantly worried about what’s going on with your friends and family on Facebook or the various other social sites, when do you worry about what you’re doing? If you spend all of your time researching aspects of what you’re writing, when do you actually write?
As humans, we have a lot of needs in our lives — some of them good, and some of them bad — and we have to find a balance on how to meet those needs. Being mindful is a good way to accomplish that task.
What Is Mindfulness?
Being mindful means that you are aware of what is going on around you and within you. You are cognizant of your thoughts, feelings, sensations in your body and the environment from moment to moment. If you’re mindful, you are paying attention to what currently is instead of letting your mind wander to what could be.
Using techniques to become more mindful may help you reduce stress and anxiety and make you feel happier. Some ways to become more mindful throughout your day include:
- Paying attention to your breathing
- Taking walks
- Being creative
- Focusing on only one task
- Being aware of what you are doing and feeling
- Taking the time to meditate
Another thing mindful people do to increase their happiness is knowing when to use technology and when to let it go. To be mindful and use technology, it’s important to set limits and go online with a purpose.
How Can Mindfulness Help Writers?
As a writer, you know that it doesn’t take much to distract you from getting your work done. It’s much more enjoyable to look at Facebook and Twitter than to stare at a white page with a blinking cursor. It’s easy to convince yourself that you need to read all 700 articles on Google about whatever before you can start writing.
The truth of the matter is: you’re just finding ways to procrastinate. Writing is hard. There’s no denying that. It takes a lot of concentration and creativity. There are days when ideas flow freely, and others when looking for them is like trying to find the Holy Grail.
During the summer, it’s even easier to get distracted and put off writing what you need to write. The weather is nicer, so it’s the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors. If you have kids, they’re out of school and you would much rather do something fun with them instead of sitting in your office. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do these things, but you have to balance fun and writing.
There’s no end to the amount of distractions that can occur for a writer. By being mindful of what is going on within and without you, you can fight the urge to procrastinate and get your work done. If being mindful is living in the moment, then it’s important to recognize how you are procrastinating and fix it.
Three Ways to Use Mindfulness to Eliminate Distraction
1. Let Go of Overanalyzing
One of the issues that some writers have with getting their writing done is overanalyzing every aspect of what they put on the paper. They wonder if the fact they looked up was correct or if there are others out there that are more pertinent. They fret that they didn’t phrase a sentence correctly or that there is a better way to state a fact. They are worried about “what ifs” instead of getting their words on the page.
If the goal of mindfulness is to be in the moment, then it’s important that your mind is focused. If you find your thoughts drifting as you write and the desire to do another Google search overcomes you, take some deep breaths. Stop your mind from critiquing what you’re doing and figure out if your writing feels right. Refocus your thoughts on what you want to accomplish, then figure out if you’re accomplishing it. If not, figure out how to fix it.
2. Let Go of Perfectionism
Like overanalyzing, needing your work to be perfect can lead to distraction and writer’s block. If you find yourself going over and over your work and feeling like it’s never good enough or that it has to be a certain way for you to be taken seriously or considered an expert, take a step back.
While editing is an important part of writing, it shouldn’t make writing debilitating. No writer ever thinks highly of their work, we are always our own worse critics, but you have to get to a point where it is good enough.
Being mindful of knowing when you are striving for perfectionism can help you let it go. Telling yourself that you did your best can help put you and your work in perspective. No writer will ever be perfect, and you shouldn’t set standards for yourself that are too high that you can’t reach them. That will only lead to dissatisfaction and depression.
3. Block Out Distractions
As a mindful writer, you need to be aware of the things that distract you from writing. Is it checking your email? Or Facebook? Or doing unending research on your topic? Do you find your kids distracting? Do you want to be outside enjoying the weather?
While none of these are terrible things to be distracted by, they are still distractions. If you are mindful of what you want to accomplish in your writing, then you need to find a way to accomplish your tasks. If that means creating a schedule, create a schedule and stick to it. It’s fine to want time for fun and distractions, but when it’s time to write, write.
Becoming a mindful writer will help you get your work done and lessen the amount of time you spend procrastinating. It will help you become aware of distractions and find ways to overcome them so you can be more productive.
Let us know your tips for eliminating distractions!
About Jennifer Landis
Jennifer Landis is a mom, wife, and healthy living blogger at Mindfulness Mama. She loves yoga, distance running, peanut butter, and spending the small amount of free time she has watching Netflix with her husband.
**Look out for Jennifer’s next column on 3rd July**